Good oral health important for mental wellbeing
The University of Queensland School of Dentistry students Anthony Chung, Leslie Le and Germaine Lee.
Dental students from the University of Queensland are helping promote good oral health among patients accessing Metro North Mental Health (MNMH) services.
School of Dentistry students Leslie Le, Germaine Lee and Anthony Chung have worked with mental health clinicians and consumer consultants to develop an oral health video and brochure as part of their final year evidence-based practice project.
The ‘Healthy Mouth, Happy Smile’ project uses every day, non-technical language and visual elements to effectively provide information and show people how to care for teeth and gums, dentures and share tips on mouth-friendly food and drinks.
MNMH and the School of Dentistry have worked collaboratively over four years to develop understanding of the challenges facing people with mental illness in relation to oral health and to improve access to care, and outcomes for consumers.
Head of the School, Professor Pauline Ford, said people experiencing mental health issues often had adverse dental outcomes.
“This is related to high intakes of sugar, through poor dietary habits, medication reducing saliva, smoking and complex problems that inhibit access to compassionate healthcare,” she said.
“As part of the collaboration, dentistry students run clinics in community mental health services. At these clinics they provide screening, training education about oral health care to consumers.”
Professor Ford said the 15 students involved in the collaboration to date had also undertaken research into consumer and staff views about oral health and the role of mental health services, and had provided educational seminars for mental health clinicians.
“The collaboration is reciprocal with mental health clinicians also providing education to students as part of their course. They provide information about mental illness and describe the individual, social and systemic factors that hinder access to services.“
A study of the impact of these sessions has been published in The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice.
From 1 January, 2017, UQ and MNHHS will commence an alliance to develop world-class integrated teaching, research and clinical service delivery in oral health.
Executive Director of Metro North Mental Health A/Professor Brett Emmerson welcomed the closer links with UQ Oral Health.
“Metro North Mental Health is very focused on the physical health of people with chronic mental illnesses, who die 20 years earlier than the rest of the population,” A/Professor Emmerson said.
“Their oral health is an extremely important part of their overall health.”